Independent Environments. Inc. was founded in 1979 with it's first residence opening in 1982. IEI was created thanks to a group of dedicated parents who worked diligently with the University of Oregon and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to procure funding and build a home for their sons and daughters. At the time there were no housing options in the Lane County, Oregon, area for adults with physical disabilities. That first home was state-of-the-art for the time, designed to meet the needs of 8 people physical disabilities who also experienced intellectual and developmental disabilities.
In 1985, another parent approached IEI with similar concerns for housing and support services for her daughter. Eventually, a second home was purchased, this time on a land-sales contract from that parent. That two-story home operated as a Foster Home for several years but was eventually sold and replaced with a more appropriate, one-story home closer to IEI’s first site, on Exmoor Street in Eugene. That change occurred in 2002 and the home is still in operation.
In 1994, IEI expanded to begin a Supported Living Program. Two people who had previously lived in the first group home moved into specially designed, community-based apartments. One of them married soon after and he and his wife are both still together, supported by IEI 22 years later. At the time, the Register-Guard, Eugene’s primary newspaper, did a major story about this couple. It was quite a tale and wonderful accomplishment for all parties concerned.
In 1998, IEI purchased a forth home, located on Martingale Street, for two more people who experienced very complex disabilities. One person had been unsuccessfully supported in a variety of homes over her lifetime. The other person, a young man experiencing autism, had been living with his father, had reached adulthood and was ready for a more appropriate living situation. That home also continues successfully today.
In 2001, IEI received a generous donation enabling us to purchase a fifth home. This home was renovated and specifically designed to support one person with a disability on one side, and separately house the IEI administrative offices on the other side. The home continued in that configuration until 2013. As of this writing, in 2015, the home has been converted to provide three apartments, which are private living quarters for three people. IEI administration is now located at 696 County Club Road.
Between 2003 and 2008 IEI leased a home for three people which was later discontinued in favor of the purchase of a duplex on Erin Way Street, also in Eugene. That site was remodeled to meet the needs of five people with I/DD. IEI received over $225,000 in grant funding to make the duplex possible, and is still in operation as well.
IEI’s last project was completed in 2014. This 3-person home is located on Quebec Street and is the first of its kind in Oregon, supporting people who are I/DD and deaf. All staff are proficient in American Sign Language and we hope to continue more housing of this nature in the future.
In June of 2016, IEI opened it's 8th home in the Eugene area. Two people currently reside in this home with plans for a third to move in Spring of 2017.